Cleverness is not wisdom.

~ Euripides ~

Hooray for Happy Endings

November 23rd, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 8 secs

Kids, particularly, need happy endings.

Kids, particularly, need happy endings.

Give me a happy ending any day. Not because life is always like that, but because there’s something endearing about an uplifting finish.

Literary types will sneer down the end of their nose and over their drooping spectacles at the mere suggestion of happy endings. “Heaven forbid”, they’ll declare. “That sort of sanguine stuff went out with the ark. Besides which, it isn’t literary”.

But I love them. Personally, I have no need to see everything end in tragic circumstances, or chaotic turmoil in a hail of bullets.

No, give me some kind of meaningful ending that ties together the characters, the problem and what got done. Not in some cutesy all-smiling all-laughing way. More, through a sense of connection that explains the context and gives the story a strong sense of meaning.

So happy endings are good, despite what the intelligentsia say. After all, there’s a kind of Gestalt effect in stories that draws us to want to fill in the gaps. We feel the need to put it all together into some form of meaningful and useful whole. Because when stories don’t, they fall apart in a jumbled mess.

Still, that’s a fashion. Some filmmakers and writers deliberately use confusion to get us thinking (“What on Earth is this all about?”). Then, they leave us guessing at the end whether we really have a clue about what we thought we knew.

This is fine for adults, naturally. But children need something more fundamental than that. They need strong connections and a sense of affirming certainty because they’re unable to digest storyline mess. Besides which, kids need security far more than they need to be left uncertain, shaken, and feeling scared.

Maybe that’s true for some of us adults too. I tend to be drawn to movies that inspire rather than those that leave me downcast and distressed. Life, I figure, has enough challenges without adding more to the mix.

Yet, we are all different, are we not? Ruth, for instance, enjoys a good story that ends in tragedy, feeling no qualms at all. So I guess it’s simply a case of “horses for courses”.

In other words, know what you like and think about what suits. If you are a sensitive soul, then happy endings might be what you need too. While, more robust types will take it all in their stride, equally appreciating a powerful tragedy (no doubt Shakespeare, too, would have wondered what all the fuss is about).

But I do believe there is something relevant in this. Whoever we are and whatever we prefer, we ought give thought to our mental diet too. Happy endings might be a matter of preference. Yet, it is fair to say that continual gloom and gore affects the way we think. For the sake of balance, if nothing else, messages of hope and tales of encouragement can play their part in elevating our thinking  (and that’s always a beneficial investment).

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